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REVIEW: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS SCAREGLOW
By Thomas Wheeler

There are some special features on action figures that I like better than others. I'm not terribly fond of spring-loaded action features built into a figure. More often than not, it can impede the normal articulation of the figure. I think about the only action figure like that got away with it reasonably well was Super Powers.

On the other hand, some special features I do like. When appropriate, I like it when a figure is made from colored transparent plastic. The Inferno B.A.T.s from G.I. Joe are a personal favorite of mine, and there's a couple of very cool colored transparent Gundam figures in my collection. Chrome detailing can be cool. Is it any wonder that Destro is one of my personal favorite characters?

I also really get a kick out of glow-in-the-dark features. Now this hasn't often been applied to G.I. Joe figures, except for the Collectors' Club exclusive Cobra Heavy Water figure. And it's never turned up in Gundam. Honestly, it doesn't come up all that often. Maybe that's why I enjoy it when it does appear.

And the excellent MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS line of action figures, available on Mattel's collectors' Web Site, recently got a doozy. They added SCAREGLOW to the line.

The announcement of this particular character being added to the Masters of the Universe Classics line was doubtless something of a shocker. The character was never especially prominent within the concept. In fact, he's really only known for one thing -- having a glow in the dark figure in the original run of the line, and even then, he was pretty scarce.

Really, the only plausible reason for doing ScareGlow this far ahead of -- well, honestly, several DOZEN other characters in the line easily, especially since Mattel has ready access to every incarnation of Masters as well as She-Ra, is to turn out a cool, glow-in-the-dark figure.

Apparently such toys are highly popular, because I didn't really hear anyone complaining about it. The line is certainly a proven success, there's no reason to think it won't be around for a good long time, and more notable or prominent characters certainly stand good chances of getting their turns.

So, why NOT turn out ScareGlow. Why NOT turn out a figure that can double as a night-light -- if a rather creepy-looking one. Let's go for it!

I suppose I was one of the fortunate ones back in the 80's. I actually remember seeing the original ScareGlow on the shelves. I wasn't collecting Masters much back then, however, so I passed him up. Probably a mistake given what the WikiPedia entry on ScareGlow had to say about the value of that figure these days.

But I do recall one thing -- ScareGlow was listed as the "Evil Ghost of Skeletor". THAT surprised me. Ghost of Skeletor? Was Mattel killing off Skeletor and bringing him back like this? That's sort of traditionally where a ghost comes from.

Of course, background information in those days was sketchy, and as I didn't purchase the figure, I didn't have access to the mini-comic, which clarified the fact that ScareGlow was an entirely separate individual. In this case, "Ghost of Skeletor" meant that ScareGlow was in league with Skeletor, and wasn't some supernatural, paranormal counterpart to him.

Apparently this may have caused some confusion among others, as well. The new ScareGlow has different wording on his package, whereby it says, "Evil Ghost SERVING Skeletor." That, at least, makes a clear differentiation between the two individuals. Of course, it also could almost sound like ScareGlow is some sort of waiter.

ScareGlow is a sufficiently minor character in the concept that even his WikiPedia entry has an advisory on it wondering if it should be merged with a more generic list of Masters of the Universe villains, poor guy. However, some information can be gleaned from it concerning ScareGlow:

ScareGlow is a skeletal ghost warrior, who seems to have a solid but translucent body, and whose bones emit a strong glow which can intimidate even the bravest opponents. He wears a long purple cape, and there is a small crack on the forehead of his cranium. He carries a scythe, which is often called the 'Scythe of Doom'.

ScareGlow was introduced into the toy line in 1987. His action figure is notable for its 'glow-in-the-dark' special feature, the 'bones' glowing when positioned in a dark space. Labeled as the 'Evil Ghost of Skeletor', he refers to himself as the Ghost of Skeletor in the mini comic. ScareGlow was packaged with the mini-comic "The Search for Keldor". In this comic he is summoned to Eternia by Skeletor using a magic spell to call forth the most evil beings of space and time, although it is never stated which time period or dimension ScareGlow originates from. He is sent out with Ninjor on a mission to attack the Heroic Warriors with the power of his glow. He uses the glow to overpower Prince Adam, evoking in him so much fear that he is even too scared to change into He-Man. However, he is ousted from Adam's path by Clamp Champ, giving Adam the time to change into He-Man and subsequently defeat him.

The action figure of ScareGlow was released towards the end of the line in 1987, and was never featured in the Filmation animation, which had been concluded. As a result, due in part to the figures mysterious origin, it has become one of the most sought after and hardest to find figures by fans. ScareGlow was one of the last figures released. As fewer figures were selling by this late stage, less were produced, making it rarer as a result.

Because he is one of the last figures to be released in Mattel's toy line, ScareGlow never appeared in the accompanying cartoon series, which had been discontinued by this time, and his appearances throughout all media are minimal. Another story that significantly features him is "Enter the Ninjor" in issue #11 of the UK Adventure Magazine, which gives him an origin as a being of pure light energy, created by Skeletor in his own image. Invisible in the light, but not in the dark, he is sent out with Ninjor to mount a series of silent, unseen attacks on He-Man and Fisto as they explore Viper Tower. His origin as a magical creation of Skeletor is taken from a promotional card provided by Mattel to the publishers of various story media. A similar story of ScareGlow coming from another dimension summoned by Skeletor is told in an issue of Marvel's Star Comics' Masters of the Universe series.

Although he is not featured in the 2002 relaunch of the Masters of the Universe franchise, ScareGlow is used in the comic series from MV Creations. He is featured in a special Halloween comic "The Power of Fear" that was given away free at the 2003 Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF) fundraiser, and sold in comic shops to raise additional donations to the CAAF. The story features ScareGlow as a character from another dimension who is summoned by Skeletor to use his powers against the Masters.

So -- how's the figure? Exceptionally impressive. Consider for a moment something that both the original ScareGlow and the new Classics version have in common. They're supposed to look somewhat skeletal. And yet, the Masters of the Universe line -- both the original and the modern Classics line -- feature characters that, let's face it, are pretty muscle-bound. And you want to work someone who looks SKELETAL into that design?

This, admittedly, is not going to be that easy. To both the original line and the Classics line's mutual credit, they did a pretty decent job of it. Basically, it's a take on the old Halloween costume ides of dressing up as a skeleton. Since it is a physical impossibility to appear as a skeleton, the next logical thing to do is to wear a costume that has a skeleton printed on it. And in a way, that's what ScareGlow is, except in his case, it's not a costume, it's what he really is.

The effect, perhaps not surprisingly, works better on the head and torso than it does on the limbs, but it still comes across very impressively. ScareGlow has an all-new headsculpt, of course, that is designed to look like a skull. He's not wearing a hood, so there really isn't that much resemblance to Skeletor here beyond the obvious. ScareGlow has deep-set black eyes, with yellow dots encircled in red. His nasal area has been painted black, and details outlining his teeth have also been lined in black. The "small crack in the forehead of his cranium" referenced by WikiPedia concerning the original figure is a far larger crack this time around, starting on his forehead and going up over the top of his head and partway down the back. To what degree this might explain how he became a ghost is left to speculation.

ScareGlow's torso portrays a skeletal neck, and then a huge rib cage with a spine down the center. The back of the figure also shows shoulder blades, and the tops of ScareGlow's hip bones can be seen above the belt of his loincloth. The ScareGlow figure distinctly benefits from the additional articulation afforded to the modern Classics line, over its original, as the mid-torso articulation point makes a nice dividing line between the rib cage and the lower part of the upper torso, where just the spinal column is evident.

ScareGlow's arms and legs are another matter. The arms, if posed straight and viewed from the side, do bear a fair resemblance to the structure of arm bones. In like manner, the legs, if viewed from the front, have a clear bony-like appearance. However, given the articulation of the figure, and the fact that you can't really view ScareGlow from a "perfect angle" in this regard, there are times when ScareGlow's arms and legs tend to look more like they have a moderately skeletal series of stripes painted on them.

This is not at all a complaint, or any sort of condemnation of the figure or those who produced him. In the first place, there had to be some accommodation to the look of the figure in 1987. Secondly, there had to be some accommodation to the musculature of the figure, even without taking the greater articulation of the modern Classics figures into consideration. The objective here was not to reproduce a precise skeletal image on a Masters of the Universe Classics figure, whose very structure makes that a difficult proposition. The objective was to create an effective Classics version of the original ScareGlow. In that, the figure succeeds admirably well.

I looked up a photo of the original ScareGlow, and really, the Classics figure is precisely what it should be -- a more advanced version of the original. The design applications of the rib cage are, as one would expect, more detailed. The design applications of the arms and legs are strikingly similar to the original, again with somewhat more detail to them. The same goes for the head.

ScareGlow is wearing a purple loincloth with a black belt with a metallic purple oval in the center. He also has purple boots, with the three-toed feet used by quite a number of the bad guys in this series, especially Skeletor.

ScareGlow is also wearing a purple cape with a high collar and plastic rope across the front. The cape is actually removable, which is somewhat unusual for this line. The cape is actually made from transparent plastic, and painted an increasingly solid purple as it approaches the top. The base of the cape is not entirely clear, but is certainly translucent. The cape has slightly frayed edges and a couple of small holes molded into it, in keeping with ScareGlow's overall motif.

The figure itself is, as one would expect, superbly well articulated. ScareGlow is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, boot top swivel, and ankles.

And, ScareGlow is largely molded from glow-in-the-dark plastic. The skeletal-like details on his body are painted on in black. So -- how well does ScareGlow's special feature work? Actually better than the tattoos on Zodak, I can say that much. In fairness, those tattoos do glow, even if it take a bit of effort to get them to do so.

ScareGlow, on the other hand -- you can see a glow coming from him even in a DIM room, never mind a completely dark one. Let him soak up enough light, take him into a completely dark room immediately thereafter, and I think you could probably read by his glow for a few minutes. Yeah, it's THAT effective.

ScareGlow is not without his accessories. He does indeed come with his "Scythe of Doom", which is even referred to as such on his bio-card. This is a long, green pole, a rather curious color, actually, with a nasty-looking curved, glow in the dark blade, at one end, and several short glow in the dark spikes at the same end. Any way you look at it, you get hit by this thing -- it's going to hurt. The partially glowing aspect of the Scythe is a compromise on the original, which was available in either glowing or non-glowing versions.

ScareGlow also comes with a second accessory, that is actually chained to his wrist (although it's removable). This is described in the WikiPedia entry on the character. It's a long container with a chain and shackle attached. One end, adorned with a miniature Castle Grayskull on top, opens to reveal a small skeleton key. They are calling this piece "Cursed Grayskull Reliquary".

This accessory is really an impressive piece of work, courtesy of the Four Horsemen. It's about 2-1/2" in length, and is as medieval-looking an artifact as I've ever seen come out of this line. It's molded in a very dark grey, and appears to be an ornate post with a small sculpture of Castle Grayskull at the top of it. The entire thing is on almost five inches of dark chain that's actual metal chain, attached to a cuff that fits around ScareGlow's wrist.

The top does indeed pop off, and there's a tiny, ornate key within, about 3/4" in length. Personally, I recommend LEAVING it within the container.

I actually had to look up the word "reliquary" in the dictionary. That sort of thing doesn't happen too often. The definition was blindingly obvious. A reliquary is "a repository or receptacle for a relic or relics." It is certainly that. As to what makes it "cursed" is anybody's guess, but that sort of thing seems to follow ScareGlow around a bit.

His background information on the scroll-like card on the back of his package reads as follows:

SCAREGLOW: Evil Ghost Serving Skeletor
Real Name: Karak Nul

In life, Nul was a shifty bounty hunter who spent years attempting to break into Castle Grayskull, obsessed with legends that within lay the power to become Master of the Universe. In death, he was cursed and banished to the dimension of Infinita - forever chained to his past crimes. He was brought back to Eternia by a magical spell of light cast by Skeletor to locate the most evil warriors in the five dimensions. Provided with a Scythe of Doom, Nul agreed to join forces with Skeletor and quickly became known as "ScareGlow" due to his ability to burst forth and freeze his enemies with fright.

So, what's my final word here? Well, part of me was a little surprised he wasn't released in October. He would've been great fun around Halloween. And according to some information from MattyCollector, he was originally intended for an October release, but production delays on some other figures resulted in a shifting of the release schedule and Scare Glow got -- well -- shifted. So, look at it this way. You've got a jump on next Halloween.

But regardless, this is an extremely impressive Masters of the Universe Classics figure of an admittedly obscure character within the line. Along with a very cool glow-in-the-dark feature, his presence should give all Masters fans the hope that, yes, Mattel is serious about this line, and they mean it when they say that anyone in its history is fair game for inclusion.

I'm sincerely hopeful that we'll be enjoying this line for many years to come. And for right now, the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE figure of SCAREGLOW definitely has my highest recommendation!